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Microsoft is working actively with VFO, home of the Freedom Scientific brand and the widely used JAWS screen reader, to help people be efficient and productive at work, in the classroom, and at home.
This article announces important enhancements to using JAWS with several Microsoft 365 apps: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Skype for Business, Windows Mail, and Outlook.
The improvements described in this article reflect close coordination between VFO and Microsoft. In many cases, both companies implemented changes. If you find that a described update does not work on your version of Microsoft 365, it might not have been released yet. Microsoft 365 updates are released monthly.
These enhancements apply to the desktop versions of our products that run on Windows.
For support in using Microsoft 365 apps with JAWS and other screen readers, go to Office Accessibility Center - Resources for people with disabilities.
For more information about the February 2017 release of JAWS, go to What's new in JAWS 18 screen reading software
Here are the improvements in using JAWS with Word for Windows in Microsoft 365.
Row and column headers
When you correctly mark a header row or first column in Word table style options, JAWS responds appropriately and indicates that you are on a table header or row header. For example, in a given cell, JAWS can speak the appropriate row/column header.
To enable (or disable) table headers, check (or uncheck) Header Row and First Column boxes on the Design tab for Table Tools.
Improved stability and reliability
There are numerous stability and reliability improvements when using JAWS with Word. This includes working with headers, footers, footnotes, endnotes, and comments, using the word count dialog, and using Find.
Here are the improvements in using JAWS with Excel for Windows in Microsoft 365.
When you write a function, JAWS speaks and provides Braille information of the items in the function's auto-complete list.
When you press Alt+Down Arrow on a cell that contains a Data Validation list, JAWS reads the items in the list.
Title headers in PivotTables
JAWS now reads titles of PivotTable fields, even when the title is blank.
Braille information for drop down lists
JAWS now provides correct Braille information for items in a drop down list.
If you encounter an error in a cell of an Excel workbook, JAWS now tells you that there is an error, and tells you how to open the context menu.
Here are the improvements in using JAWS with PowerPoint for Windows in Microsoft 365.
JAWS now detects when a textbox has focus or is being edited. For example, when you use Up Arrow and Down Arrow keys to navigate within a textbox, JAWS reads the line of text that you navigated to. When you use Left Arrow and Right Arrow, JAWS reads the character you navigated to.
JAWS now identifies the Notes pane and reads any Notes text. For example, when you use Up Arrow and Down Arrow keys to navigate within the Notes pane, JAWS reads the line of text that you navigated to. When you use Left Arrow and Right Arrow, JAWS reads the character you navigated to.
Skype for Business
Here are the improvements in using JAWS with Skype for Business in Microsoft 365.
When Skype posts an alert about an incoming call or IM request or you receive a new message in an IM conversation, JAWS lets you know.
Here are the improvements in using JAWS with Project for Windows in Microsoft 365.
Grid read correction
JAWS reads Project grid content correctly.
Here are the improvements in using JAWS with Windows Mail in Microsoft 365.
Say Line correction
JAWS reads an email message with wrapped text when you press END at the end of a line.
Here are the improvements in using JAWS with Outlook for Windows in Microsoft 365.
Outlook provides suggestions that make searching easier and more efficient. JAWS reads these suggestions correctly.
Table navigation for message list
You can now navigate a message list just like a table. JAWS enables you to use shortcuts such as CAPS+T to change into table mode, then use arrow keys. Outlook email can now be browsed by element, which makes navigation more efficient.
List item position
As you navigate a list, JAWS announces the relative position of each item in the list, such as "item 3 of 5" for both speech and Braille.
Microsoft 365 ships features every month. Microsoft works actively with VFO, the company that makes JAWS, to make sure that JAWS works well with our new features - @mentions are one example.